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Hi, my name is Dean and in this podcast, I want to discuss what it means to pray boldly.
In Hebrews 4:16, we are encouraged to come boldly into the throne room of grace when we pray, that we may obtain help in our time of need.
16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)
But what exactly does this mean? How are we to pray boldly?
Well, this verse provides two vital keys to praying boldly.
First, it speaks of knowing our position in Christ.
Several years back, I read the story of how an Inuit hunter in Canada’s north had come across an abandoned wolf pup and decided to bring it back to his village.
It immediately became the town’s favorite pet, but the village dogs knew it was the odd man out and began bullying it. But that pup continued to grow, and before long it was towering above the other dogs in the village in both size and strength.
But the writer remembered the day that he saw a small house dog chasing the wolf down the street. I could have destroyed that yappy house dog in a matter of seconds, but the wolf was blinded to its own power. It was blinded to its strength.
It was blinded to what it actually was.
The writer ironically noted that a few days later, one of the villagers took the wolf out into the Tundra and shot it.
It is a sad story, but what is even sadder is that many Christians have similar identity issues.
The Bible tells us that we are children of God, coheirs of Christ (Romans 8:17).
Because of our favored position, we can confidently enter God’s throne room.
But it is not enough to just be that, we must believe and know this in our hearts.
Unfortunately, sometimes we think we are not deserving. Sometimes, we think we are not good enough. Sometimes, we think we are not spiritual enough.
But that is an absolute lie because you are all of that in Christ.
And more importantly, we need to start acting on this inner belief that we have full access to the throne room of God.
You see, what we believe often determines how we act.
As a child of God, we have rights, and we need to take advantage of them because there is more to that Greek word “parrhesia” translated boldly in Hebrews 4:16 than we realize.
It literally refers to free speech. It means to speak boldly and to speak the truth. It refers to the idea of speaking at one’s own personal risk.
We have all probably watched movies when a lower-ranked person in the police force asks his commanding officer if he has permission to speak freely, and we all know what is about to come.
Well, that is exactly what “parrhesia” means.
The word described the type of speech allowed in Ancient Greece’s political assemblies, where people were free to say whatever they wanted.
The idea of free speech also extended to the playwrights, such as comedic Aristophanes, who were allowed to ridicule the rich and famous as well as those in power in their plays.
But for the rest of Greek society, there were limits on how far they could go.
And when it comes to prayer, God has already given us the right to speak freely, and not only that the writer of Hebrews says that God wants us to speak freely.
Respected Greek Scholar, Rick Renner, describes “parrhesia” this way:
First, we know that whenever we approach the Lord in prayer, we need never fear that we are too frank, too bold, too forthright, too honest, too outspoken, or even too blunt when we bare our hearts to Him or request His help. We should never be irreverent, but neither do we need to be ashamed to speak exactly what is on our hearts. When you go to the Lord, He wants to hear exactly what you have to say!
Here is the big problem, when it comes to prayer we often don’t pray freely.
We may be thinking about how unfair a situation is, but we never say that to God. What I mean is that many of us have opinions and thoughts in our minds about a situation, but we never actually express them to God.
God knows all our thoughts, but He doesn’t actually hear them until we start praying what we are thinking.
In other words, thinking is not praying.
God wants us to be honest when we pray. God wants us to say exactly what is on our mind.
Take the prayer of King Hezekiah.
Hezekiah had come down with a boil, and God sent the prophet Isaiah to tell the king he was going to die and to make plans for a transfer of government.
But look at what Hezekiah prayed.
3 “Remember, Lord, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. (2 Kings 20:2-3)
It doesn’t take much to read between the line here.
Hezekiah was one of only a handful of Judah’s Godly kings, and Hezekiah reminded God of how he had walked faithfully with God.
And though he didn’t actually say it, he clearly was implying it,
Hezekiah was saying, “and, this is how you treat me.”
Hezekiah was saying this is totally unfair.
Through his prayer, Hezekiah was being honest about how he was feeling. And incredibly we are told that God actually changed his mind, yes, God changed His mind and sent Isaiah back to heal this King.
Or how about the time, that God became so fed up with the Hebrews after they built the Golden calf, that the Lord was ready to wipe them out and start all over with Moses’ descendants.
How did Moses respond:
13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” (Exodus 32:13 ESV)
In his prayer, Moses actually reminded God of His promise that he had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Israel that He would make a great nation out of them.
Moses was saying, remember the promises You have already made.
And look at how God responded to this. In the very next verse, we read:
And God turned to the arch angel Gabriel who standing nearby and said “Did we make such promises?” And Gabriel, who was sheepishly looking to the ground, muttered, “Yeah, we may have said something along those lines.”
Of course, this is not what happened.
In the very next verse, we read that God changed his mind and did not judge Israel.
So, why did Moses have to remind God of His promises? Had God forgotten them?
Of course not. The issue is this: Do you respect God’s word enough to claim the promises He has made?
It is not enough to just think them, we must actually verbally claim these promises in our prayer.
There is nothing wrong with citing Bible verses in prayer, reminding God of His promises. When you are praying for your children, remind God of His word that if we train up a child in the way, he is to go, that when he is old he won’t depart from it.
We need to be very respectful when we pray, but we need to pray honestly. Express how you really feel.
We are to speak boldly.
This means that we should hold nothing back.
Voice your complaints. Be frank with God. Many of the prophets such as Moses and Jeremiah complained to God, which is very different from complaining about God, which Israel did in their journey to the Promised Land.
Tell the Lord exactly how you are really feeling, respectfully, of course.
If you are having doubts, tell God.
Speak your mind.
If you have questions, ask them.
If you think God is being unfair, be truthful.
Tell the Lord exactly how you feel about a situation.
In closing, there is one thing that I have noticed that was very different between how the old patriarchs prayed and how we pray today.
They had conversations with God expressing their fears and doubts. Abraham even negotiated with God on Sodom and Gomorrah.
A while back I was riding on my bike, and I began to remember some things that were going on in my life, I realized I was thinking these thoughts, but I had never expressed the situation to God.
So I looked at what I was thinking, and I decided I needed to tell God, not just think, about all that was going on in my life. So I began to tell God, line by line, everything that was going on.
I even complained about some things that I thought were unfair.
In that sense, I was having a conversation with God.
And I think this is what God desires from us. He desires that we have conversations with Him.
Now, at the same time as we are having these conversations, we need to be open to hearing from God. Hearing what the Holy Spirit may say in return.
But if you have gone through difficulties and challenges, rather than thinking about them, start telling God exactly what is going on in your life.
God wants us to start having conversations with Him. Remember, God knows every thought in our mind, but only hears what we pray.
As believers, we need to take our prayer life to the next level. We need to start praying like we are a Child of God.